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The Effect of Peripheral Nerve Stimulation on Shoulder Biomechanics: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Comparison to Physical Therapy

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Abstract

Objective

To establish the effects on shoulder biomechanics from a peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) treatment compared to physical therapy (PT) in stroke survivors with chronic hemiplegic shoulder pain.

Design

Single-site, pilot, randomized controlled trial for adults with chronic shoulder pain after stroke. Participants were randomized to receive a 3-week treatment of single-lead PNS or physical therapy (PT). The outcomes included isometric shoulder abduction strength, pain-free shoulder external rotation range of motion (ROM), delay in initiation and termination of shoulder abduction electromyogram (EMG) activity, and the Fugl-Meyer Motor Assessment (upper extremity section). Outcomes were measured at baseline, and at weeks 1, 4, 12, and 16.

Results

Twenty-five participants were recruited, 13 to PNS and 12 to PT. There were significant improvements for both PNS and PT in maximum isometric shoulder abduction strength, pain-free external rotation ROM, and Fugl-Meyer Motor Assessment. There were no significant changes in delay of initiation or termination of deltoid EMG with either treatment.

Conclusions

Both PNS and PT are capable of improving shoulder biomechanics in those with HSP, though changes in biomechanics alone do not account for the greater pain relief associated with PNS than PT.

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